On Tuesday the Auckland Transport board meet again and as I usually do I’ve been through the main board report to find anything interesting. Here’s what caught my attention (in the order they appear in the report):
- Under the section on funding assistance approved by the NZTA in May there is $160k for design and $520k for construction of an Onewa Rd Transit Lane. This suggests are finally going to be getting the much needed westbound lane.
- The alternative cycleway as part of the Tiverton-Wolverton project is scheduled to get underway in July. From memory this was originally meant to have been done right at the start so it’s disappointing it’s only just happening now a few years later.
- On the East-West Link AT say that over the next two months they will be engaging in public consultation that will “focus on increasing the community’s level of awareness of the programme”. They also say they will “ask the community for feedback on the transport issues identified in the area, with an aim to understand if all the issues have been identified”. I would have thought they might have done some of that a little sooner in the piece.
- For the appeals against the CRL they will be starting to hold discussions with the appellants soon. A separate paper to the board says they will be having mediation talks in the 3rd/4th quarter of this year and any outstanding matters will be heard in the Environment Court in the 1st quarter in 2015.
- At Mt Albert AT plan to start the second stage of the upgrade will start in the 1st quarter next year. It will see the underpass at the southern end upgraded along with shelter along the platform extended to include the stairs and platform ramp. A further stage in the development of the station will see a bridge added to span the tracks from the concourse to the the 915 New North Rd which is planned to become a town square however that isn’t planned to happen till 2016
- The Otahuhu Bus-Train interchange is still going through its design phase however AT say “The tender for construction will commence in September 2014 for enabling works to be completed during the Dec 2014/Jan 2015 planned block of line”. Does this suggest AT and Kiwirail are gearing up for another large annual shutdown over Christmas/New Year? We’ve had to put up with annual shutdowns for the last decade or so with the understanding there were major upgrades happening with DART and Electrification. To see a major shutdown after both those projects have been completed would be extremely disappointing and show a complete lack of care towards the travelling public.
- At Panmure they say the design is almost complete for the cycle parking facilities at the recently upgraded station. Like the Tiverton/Wolverton cycleway this is something that should have been a part of the station on day one, not still in the design stage six months after the station opened. They also say that the new link road that runs parallel to the tracks will open in August. They have said in the past they can’t start work on removing the Panmure roundabout and other parts of the AMETI project until that road has been completed.
- At the time of writing the report - which I assume was at least a week ago – AT had already received 326 submissions on their parking discussion document. The key themes so far are park and rides, residential parking zones and parking on arterial roads.
- AT will be starting to talk to the market in July in advance of tendering for a new rail contract from 2016. The contract last came up in 2004 well before the DART and Electrification upgrades were even agreed to so the network and rolling stock will have improved dramatically and so there should be a lot more interest which will hopefully help in AT being able to get a good price for the contract.
Following the introduction of the electric trains there has been a lot of noise about the performance of the trains. They say “additional dwell times at stations and bedding in of new operations and procedures resulted in some additional journey times for services”. They also say the focus has been on bedding in the new operations and that they’ve been able to make improvements as shown in the graph below.
- Platform interface testing (i.e. making sure the trains fit on the platforms correctly) will be happening south of Wiri this month and on the Western line in July. I wonder if wiring will be finished out west in time to do that under its own power of if it will be hauled around by a diesel locomotive like what happened on the Eastern Line?
- AT have also had Network Rail from the UK investigate and benchmark the track condition of the Auckland Network. The outcomes of that should hopefully see improvements that further improve the ride quality of the new electric trains (which is already much better than the diesels we have now).
- The current planning will see AT consult on the New Network in the following areas in the following months
- Hibiscus Coast – July
- Franklin – September
- West Auckland – October